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God's Own Country
God’s Own Country, often abbreviated to Godzone or less often Godzown, is a phrase that has been used for more than 120 years by New Zealanders to describe their homeland. It has subsequently been adopted by some other countries, notably Australia, but this has declined as the phrase has become increasingly associated with New Zealand. In recent years the phrase has been adopted as a slogan by the tourism department of the Kerala state government in India.
The earliest recorded use of the phrase was as the title of a poem about New Zealand written by Thomas Bracken some time in the 1880s. It was published in a book of his poems in 1890, and then again in 1893 in a book containing a selection of his works, entitled Lays and Lyrics: God's Own Country and Other Poems. God's Own Country as a phrase was often used and popularised by New Zealand's longest serving prime minister, Richard John Seddon. He last quoted it on June 10, 1906 when he sent a telegram to the Victorian premier, Thomas Bent, the day before leaving Sydney to return home to New Zealand. "Just leaving for God's own country," he wrote. He never made it, dying the next day on the ship Oswestry Grange. Bracken's God's Own Country is less well known internationally than God Defend New Zealand which he published in 1876. The latter poem, set to music by John Joseph Woods, was declared the country's national hymn in 1940, and made the second national anthem of New Zealand along with God Save the Queen in 1977.
The phrase "God's own country" was heard in Rhodesia (formerly: Southern Rhodesia, now: Zimbabwe) during the 1970s, where most people perceived the land as beautiful despite the ongoing Bush War at the time. Evidence of the phrase being used earlier in reference to Rhodesia can be found in the book entitled Chartered Millions: Rhodesia and the Challenge to the British Commonwealth by John Hobbis Harris; published 1920 by Swarthmore Press (refer to page 27). The phrase "Godzone" is distinctly different and was not used in Rhodesia.
The Kerala Government Tourism Department, a government department in charge of promoting tourism in the Indian state of Kerala has adopted the slogan God's Own Country for its campaigns.
In the United Kingdom the phrase is used by people from Yorkshire to describe that county. This is used interchangeably with God's Own County.